By: Kevin Lohman
Entering its WPIAL Class 5A Allegheny 8 Conference contest against Moon, No. 2 Peters Township hadn’t trailed this season.
By the end of Friday night’s game, the Tigers made sure the Indians were familiar with the feeling.
Moon (5-2, 3-1) scored its first touchdown less than three minutes into the game at Tiger Stadium and maintained its grip, toppling Peters Township 21-13.
It’s a meaningful win, to say the least, for Moon coach Ryan Linn and his team, which went 2-8 last year and is battling for a spot in the Class 5A playoffs.
“This is huge,” Linn said. “We’ve had some big wins here in the past, but they’re awesome. That’s a hell of a team. I hope we don’t see them again, but it’s nice to get one of those program-changing wins. We’re trying to build the culture and change the dynamic here, so it’s big for us.”
The Tigers pulled off the upset with their starting quarterback Dante Clay out because of injury.
Instead, sophomore Tyler McGowan ran the Moon offense. In only his second start, McGowan displayed poise and plenty of accuracy. The left-handed signal caller completed 10 of 17 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns against an Indians defense that surrendered just 7.5 points per game before the loss.
“He’s just real cool. Nothing ever phases him,” Linn said. “He’s only a sophomore. It’s his second-ever varsity start. The first touchdown he threw, I’m screaming for him to run, and he just throws it across the middle of the field for a touchdown. He made some great, clutch throws for us.”
Jeremiah Dean and Dalton Dobyns were on the receiving end of McGowan’s touchdown tosses. Dean led his team in receiving with 40 yards on two catches.
Meanwhile, the Tigers defense was stifling against the Indians (6-1, 3-1).
Its defensive line made life difficult for Peters Township quarterback Logan Pfeuffer, sacking him six times.
Senior defensive tackle Brenden Luffey helped hammer home the dominant performance by sliding in front of a Peters Township screen pass attempt and returning it 17 yards for a touchdown.
Moon maintained its lead thanks to a workhorse performance from running back Jamal Littlejohn, who rushed for 79 yards on 25 carries.
The Tigers’ final score, a 3-yard pass from McGowan to Dobyns, helped ensure the victory.
For Peters Township, the offense showed signs but never fully clicked as Pfeuffer went 11 of 27 for 87 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Wide receiver Josh Casilli, who had scored in every game this season, was held to just two catches for three yards. Aidan McCall led the Indians in receiving with seven catches for 77 yards and a TD on a 57-yard pass from Pfeuffer.
Senior running back Ryan Magiske had success, rushing for 131 yards, including a 48-yard TD run, on 19 carries.
Still, the stifling presence of the Moon defensive line made it too difficult for the Indians’ passing attack to get off the ground.
In the end, the Indians just ran out of time before they could get it going.
“It was poor execution, and they were pretty good up front against us,” Peters Township coach T.J. Plack said. “I thought we were able to run the ball. We pressed a little bit at times. We tried to get in a rhythm, throwing some screens and getting the short game started, and they did a good job on defense. They had guys there. We didn’t make the plays, and they did.”
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